Sea monsters - also known as sea worms - are tentacled, vicious creatures which lurk in depths of the waterways of Exile.
Not much is known about their appearance due to the difficulty of observation and obtaining a specimen. What is known is they have multiple long tentacles sharp teeth and are presumably well adapted to the cold waters of the caves. It is unknown what the maximum size these creatures can grow to but there many well verified stories of sea monsters capsizing barges with a single tentacle. From reports, sea monsters are thought to lay large clusters of light blue eggs which are encased in slime for protection.
Sea monsters appear to hunt in small groups while some are large enough to hunt alone. These beasts will stalk their prey from below, positioning themselves in the best spot to use their tentacles to drag their prey to themselves. If they are spotted and attacked they will swim into deeper water where they cannot be reached. Sea monsters also have a dislike of bright lights.
The aggression of the sea monster has divided scholars. Some believe it is inherent to their nature and others think that it was the actions of the aggressors during the Retribution which caused it.
History and Sightings
While the common person may believe that sea monsters are a recent horror to inflict Avernum, historian sages have found stories from the past detailing close encounters.
Before the Kingdom of Avernum
Some Slithzerikai tribes have folk tales which read as thinly veiled warnings about swimming in waters where the "grasping hunters" lurk.
Stories of Sailors
Sailing the underground seas is dangerous work and from time to time stories about vicious "sea worms" emerge. Often passed off as tavern boasting, these stories hold a grain of truth. Below is one of them; Around 814 IE a sailor and shipwright by the name of Eduardo was sailing the undersea when a sea worm emerged and took hold of the man's leg. After a tense battle, Eduardo managed to escape at the cost of his leg. In the case of recent history, his well known conclusion to his story "Mark my words! If they ever come near the surface in numbers, no sailor will be safe. Only walking for ye!" was remarkably portentous.
Rising from the Deep
During the Vahnatai Retribution, tales of huge, tentacled sea monsters came out, originating from the north west. Soon the sea monsters were terrorizing the waterways, devouring humans and Slithzerikai at sea and making water travel impossible.
To most, it was unknown where these monsters had come from. To those who knew of their existence, the question was why the previous reclusive sea creatures had surfaced en masse. The Shade Killers are said to have come across the answer to both of those questions. The adventurers came across an abandoned breeding ground for the beasts as well as information about their maintenance. These sea monsters had need of a series of spells on routine basis to maintain their strength as well as need of regular care.
Eventually they discovered the creator of this plague, a lich named Anastasia, with assistance and at the bidding of Rentar-Ihrno. When they slew the lich the spells maintaining the creatures were halted, and eventually the rivers and lakes became safe to traverse as they appeared less and less.
However, there are still stories of underwater tentacles being sighted in remote caverns.
Nature Vs. Manufacture
The sea monsters of the Retribution era have many differences with the records of those earlier times. The older ones preferred deeper water and stayed away from the noise and lights of the cities.
Another point is Anastasia claimed to have created the sea monsters when it is clear they existed previously. And what she did create was not perfected, as the creatures need constant care and maintenance to stay in peak form.
So what is the truth? When the identity of the instigator behind Anastasia is taken into account, an educated guess can be made.
Rentar-Ihrno's modus operandi is to create magical constructs to assault her targets. Often she uses an already existing being as a basis, as is the cases of the cockroach and slime plagues of Valorim. It is highly likely that the sea monsters were altered and augmented to be more aggressive and stronger.
With the death of their creator the created sea monsters died out while the original species lived still in the deep waters.